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Bishop’s death threat after mosque support: CEN 3.26.08 March 26, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Islam, Multiculturalism.
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The Rt. Rev. John Pritchard, Bishop of Oxford 

The Bishop of Oxford told a community meeting that he had received a death threat for backing a proposal to allow the Muslim muezzin’s call, the Adhan, to be broadcast five times a day at the Oxford Central Mosque.

The Rt. Rev. John Pritchard told the meeting organized by the Anglo Asian Association in East Oxford on March 8, the virulence of some of the letters he received was “extraordinary.”

“One said, on a piece of A4, ‘resign’ six times in large font. One called on me to be beheaded and one said ‘I wish I was closer so I could spit on you’.”

” The dark underbelly of British society was coming out,” Bishop Pritchard told the meeting, according to an account printed by the Oxford Mail.

A diocesan spokesman said the threatening letters had not been reported to the police.

Bishop Pritchard, a Muslim speaker, a representative from the mosque, and city councilor Craig Simmons addressed the meeting, which was called to discuss concerns over the muezzin’s call in East Oxford.

Mr. Simmons said the controversy was premature. One of the conditions Oxford had made to allow construction of the mosque was a ban on amplified calls to prayer. “Planning permission would be needed to overturn this, which would involve a full consultation” he said, adding that the mosque had not yet submitted a request for permission to broadcast the muezzin’s call.

A representative from the mosque conceded the its interim committee had mishandled the affair. “It was basically a romantic idea from pure hearts. It was something that people wanted to share without any intentions of asserting a theology or culture on anyone,” Mr. Altaf Hussein said.

In January, Bishop Pritchard sparked controversy by telling the Oxford Mail he supported allowing the mosque to broadcast the muezzin’s call. “I would say to anyone who has concerns about the call to prayer to relax and enjoy our community diversity and be as respectful to others as you would hope they would be respectful to you,” he said.

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

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